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And so the found footage sub-genre continues. Grave Encounters is "made up of" unused footage from a cancelled ghost-hunters television show titled Grave Encounters, obviously. The team intend on locking themselves into an old, abandoned mental institution where unexplained phenomena has been reported several times over the years. When the doors are locked and the lights turned off, the place begins to appear somewhat different to how they remember it, and most certainly scarier, particularly when the hospital's inhabitants come out to play.
Every so often I come across a film that I go into with incredibly low expectations, but come out of pleasantly surprised. Grave Encounters is one of these films. The film itself isn't the most well made movie out there, but compared to all of the other found footage garbage that we're used to, it's a decent flick. My least favourite film so far in 2014 is found footage, for goodness sake. It shouldn't come as a shock to anyone when I say that I think the found footage craze should stop, but there's only so many times I can say that before my rants come out just as frequent as the film's release dates. Grave Encounters does what it wants to do very well, and for that reason alone, I deem this film worthy of a watch, particularly if you're a fan of the horror genre, although why wouldn't you be? We love to be scared!
The film begins as a sort of parody of the whole found footage genre. It's opening scene points out how, from the point of view of our time, this film can seem really dated and unoriginal, but they sneak there way around this by saying how it was original for its time, and since the footage was made a while ago it now looks dated. It's laughable, but they make it believable. It's one of the few found footage films that actually has a reason for these characters to continue filming, despite the craziness occurring around them. For that, I give them credit.
As an actual documentary, however, it's rubbish. This sounds like an odd critique to make, and it is, but this film takes a really unrealistic approach to documentary filmmaking. I'm not sure what sort of ratings they would've received if their show aired on TV, but I can almost guarantee they wouldn't be good. These characters clearly don't know how to film a documentary, zooming in during interviews and shaking the camera all around, the interviewees never quite seen as clearly as they should be. It was a very distracting aspect of the movie.
Despite a douchey main character, generic dialogue and some over-acting, Grave Encounters is fun. All it's trying to be is frightening, and while that's not the best word to describe this film, it's close enough. This film pulls out enough tricks and surprises, as well as a few decent and unexpected scares that it can make up for its many flaws. This isn't a masterclass horror film, but given what we're given, it's fine.
The plot of this film had me captivated. I would watch anything about paranormal investigators and so I was obviously willing to watch this, despite my already-mentioned low expectations. It's a job that I don't ever want to have, but watching the cases unfold makes for high quality entertainment. This isn't high quality entertainment though, unlike last year's The Conjuring, which also follows the story of paranormal investigators, but whatever really.
The only moments where the found footage feels really unnecessary is the ending. When I make this point, it's in the relevance of this film already found footage. Like I said, they always give the characters a reason to keep filming, but once we get to the film's ending this stops being relevant. It works up until a point, but it's then just happening to show the audience what's happening to our 'beloved' characters. The film also has a few cheap cop outs where someone will drop the camera, but it will slide into just the right position so that we can still see what's happening. Oh found footage, piss off please.
To sum up, Grave Encounters isn't a masterclass horror film, but for what it is it's decent. The characters are given a reason to keep filming, the film has a few surprises up its sleeve and it can also be fairly scary at times. What else do you really want from a movie like this one?